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Meet Us During the 41st Session of the Human Rights Council

The 41st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), which started on 24 June and ended on 12 July 2019, was an opportunity for WILPF to leverage feminist perspectives on peace and to bridge the gap between what happens in the international bodies and on the ground.

Image credit: WILPF
WILPF International Secretariat
20 June 2019

Next week, the 41st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) is starting in Geneva. The session will last three weeks, starting on 24 June and ending on 12 July 2019.

Each Human Rights Council session is an opportunity for WILPF to leverage feminist perspectives on peace and to bridge the gap between what happens in the international bodies and on the ground.

WILPF Links Grassroots Activism to Global Advocacy

One of our greatest strengths is to connect local, national and international efforts. We support local women activists by either bringing their concerns to international bodies, such as the HRC, in the shape of reports, submissions and statements, or by facilitating their access to the relevant international fora.

This means that we are busy during international high-level meetings. During these periods, we work closely with our national Sections and Groups and our partner organisations around the world. Women’s human rights are often forgotten and together we bring forward women’s analysis on the topics discussed, participate in debates, influence negotiations, and shape responses to the outcomes of the sessions.

WILPF at the 41st Session of the HRC

As WILPF holds a Consultative Status with the UN, this gives us the right to organise side events, officially called parallel events, on topics discussed during the Council as well as to deliver oral and written statements on issues relevant to the work of the Council.

During this session, we will deliver written and oral statements, and at the moment, it is confirmed that we will be organising three side events.

Our first side event will be on Gender Justice in Business and Human Rights on 25 June 2019. Nela Porobić Isaković, WILPF Project Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina will take part in a discussion on how neoliberal economic policies and corporate impunity impact women’s rights. This event also builds on WILPF’s previous advocacy for a gender-sensitive treaty on business and human rights. During this debate, Nela Porobić Isaković will specifically address the impacts that economic reforms have had on economic, social and cultural rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the case of women’s struggle against the building of hydropower dams.

On 26 June 2019, the Syrian Women’s Political Movement, which WILPF has been supporting over the past year, will hold a side-event on Bringing All the Women to the Table: Reshaping Politics in Syria through a Holistic, Inclusive and Gender-Sensitive Feminist Approach. During the event, they will launch three policy papers with recommendations on what steps are still needed to be taken in order to achieve sustainable peace in Syria. These recommendations were discussed in eight consultations from December 2018 to March 2019 within Syria and the diaspora. At the event, they will explore how to influence the constitutional reform process through supporting a feminist, inclusive, participatory, people-based and democratic course of action. In particular, they will debate how they can bring about a democratic and pluralistic Syria. 

Additionally, in partnership with Together We Build It Organization (TWBI) and with the support of UN Women, we will have an event on 28 June 2019 on feminist approaches towards achieving peace and security in the face of patriarchy, militarism, and fundamentalism. The main objective of this side event will be to launch the policy brief: A Roadmap to Sustainable Peace in Libya, recently developed by WILPF and TWBI, where we provided concrete recommendations to various national and international actors on how to achieve sustainable peace, conflict prevention and ensure effective political processes. At the event, we will highlight the significant contribution of Libyan civil society and women-led initiatives in limiting the intensification of violence, and call the international community, particularly the Human Rights Council, donors and influential States, to promote the meaningful participation of Libyan women and civil society in the peace process.

Last but not least, on 8 July 2019, we will have an event on women’s and girls’ rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The aim of the event is to discuss issues affecting Congolese women and girls, including the impact of mining activities, gender-based and sexual violence, women’s participation in political and public life, the impact of armed violence on women, particularly in Kasaï and Ituri, as well as the situation of indigenous women.

How to follow WILPF during the 41st Session of the HRC?

The best way to stay updated on our work during the HRC sessions is to visit our website During the sessions, you can also find us live on twitter under the handle @wilpf. Make sure to tag WILPF in any Facebook and Twitter content you post about the Human Rights Council and use the hashtag #HRC41.

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

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Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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